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noun, plural: phylogenies

(1) The evolutionary development or history of a species or of a taxonomic group of organisms.

(2) The history of development of a tribe or racial group.


Phylogeny refers to the evolutionary history of a taxonomic group of organisms. It is essential in the scientific study of the identification, classification, ecology, and evolutionary histories of organisms, which is systematics. Phylogeny shows the relationships between groups of organisms (taxa) particularly the differences and similarities among them. Phylogeny is represented by a tree diagram called phylogenetic tree. A closely related branch of science that makes use of phylogenetic tree diagrams to study evolutionary histories and relatedness among various groups of organisms is phylogenetics. The relatedness between taxa is usually demonstrated through molecular sequencing data and morphological data matrices. Thus, phylogeny is essential in understanding biodiversity, genetics, evolutions, and ecology among groups of organisms.

Phylogeny may be represented by a rooted or an unrooted phylogenetic tree. A rooted phylogenetic tree implicates a common ancestor where closely-related taxa descended from. An unrooted phylogenetic tree, in contrast, does not show a common ancestor but it hypothesizes on the degree of evolutionary relatedness between taxa.

Word origin: Ancient Greek phylon (tribe) + geneia (producing).

Related forms:

  • phylogenetic (adjective)



Related terms:

See also: